Mac 20 Questions Podcast 117 starting the day in bed with Siri

When you’re lying in bed in the dark room, your eyes are not ready for looking at bright lights and in fact not even ready to open, what you really is Siri. The only trouble is, is that if your wife is in the other room listening she will think that you are talking to your secret lover first thing in the morning. So you might have to explain what you’re up to just so that you keep out of trouble. It is quite useful to be able to ask Siri what time it is and first of all decide whether it is time to get up or not. Then you can ask Siri to tell you what appointments you have for the day. It may well be that there is something on first thing and you really do need to get your butt out of your bed and get the day properly started.

Using Siri to check emails and the social networks

Apple Siri

I find it’s quite handy to ask Siri to tell me how many emails I’ve got. Siri will offer to read me the last three emails that have arrived or I could ask for all of them to be read to me. It really depends on how many emails there are in the inbox. That little bit of time when it’s a bit too early to get up and inside the bed is much warmer and toastier than it is in the rest of the house can be a great time for doing some thinking. Deciding what you want to do for the day, making one or two plans or just for checking up on some of the news. This morning Siri told me that’s the email came in from the Guardian newspaper with the latest news headlines. Now and then there will be something interesting in there. I also have the Guardian App on my iOS devices.

The new iOS app called Workflow

IMG 0633

One of the best things about using computers is when you can get it to do what it is best at, which is to automate things. This new application gives us some of the automation on iOS, on our iPhones and iPads that up until now has only been available on our Macs. In some ways it works quite similar to the Mac application Automator, or maybe it is a little bit like keyboard Maestro. You can set up a new automation just by dragging in building blocks of code and not need to know how to do any coding, in order to get something really cool happening automatically.

When I got the application there was a tutorial which had you build a workflow automation step-by-step. It is a quite simple workflow which gets you to take three photographs and turn them into a gif and then for that photo to be uploaded to your choice of social network. Once you have made this workflow you can save it out so that it becomes as if it was an application on your home screen. I find that Workflow is very handy if you combine it with the application Launch Centre Pro. I can see that I’m going to be a much bigger user of Launch Centre Pro now that I am saving the workflows into a group button. The main limitation with this Workflow application is going to be how much of an imagination you have for working out what you can do with it. Then all you have to do is to put the building blocks together to make it happen.

New workflows popping up everywhere

The application only came out yesterday and already people are publishing, sharing the workflows that they are creating through the sharing webpages from the makers of the application. People are also getting enthusiastic with creating these workflows and sharing them out through the social networks such as Twitter and also with Facebook. There is a lot of good and geeky automation happening on iOS all of a sudden and I like it!

What to do when there is no electric in the house

What I had expected to do today was to create a podcast and also to create a tutorial video for YouTube about Pixelmator for iPad. For the whole morning there was no electricity in my house so I had to do other things. So long as I didn’t need to connect up to the Internet I still had my iPad and iPhone that were fully charged and ready for action. The podcast that I started recording before I got out of bed this morning I continued by recording extra bits while I was walking the dog. Then when I got back into the house I added some more recorded audio to finish it off. I did the first part of the editing of the audio within the application is using to record which is my favourite single track audio app, TwistedWave Further my career top blogging time. If I had been making a video blogging type of podcast I could have continued recording snippets of audio while I was standing on the roof inspecting broken tiles. I could have also continued with the audio capture while I was out in the shopping town next to the beach, but I decided to leave that for another day. In any case, it was good to get back home and find out that the electricity was again working.

I did see the notice yesterday to say that the electricity was going to be turned off. I should have turned off my iMac before I went out walking the dog. I was only out walking for about 30 or 40 minutes and I should have had enough juice in the UPS, but didn’t. It usually isn’t a good idea to have your computer turned off without shutting it down properly. I think I got away with it though! Since I started the iMac back up again this afternoon everything seems to be working okay. I will have to do a test to find out how many minutes I have by using the UPS to shut things down properly.

Dictating with DragonDictate and editing words or making videos

On a normal day I would be writing by dictating into DragonDictate and also editing those words. I will also be creating videos by recording tutorials into ScreenFlow. As I discovered with my trip to Ireland I can still pretty easily crank out thousand word articles, using just my iOS devices and dictating into Siri. It isn’t quite as accurate as DragonDictate and it would take a little bit longer, but even so it is still a pretty efficient way to work.

I think that there may be some applications that you can use to record your screen on the iPad or iPhone, but I don’t think they work very well. It is far better to use a screen recording application such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow. So the video work which was a Pixelmator for iPad tutorial that I had planned for today will have to wait until tomorrow.

More interviews of Mac users to come

Next week’s Mac 20Q interview will feature Bob Middleton who is a Mac user living in Japan. So it is going to be quite interesting to get the lowdown of what it is like to be a Mac user in the far east, in the land of the rising sun.

Posted in Podcast.

The Mac 20 Questions podcast 116 talking to Kurt Sasso

Kurt has a podcast called Two Geeks Talking and I chatted to him before about making podcasts for my podcast Answer 20 Questions. I spotted him online again recently and I said to him would you like to be on the Mac 20 questions podcast and he said sure why not. Now the funny thing is, is that although he has used Macs here and there he is not a full-time Mac user. So when I asked him during the interview about what Macs he is using now, it was a bit of a shock for me when he says that is not a Mac user. Like the consummate professional as I am (What a laugh!) I continued the podcast and in any case Kurt is a good bloke, a geek and he wants to be a Mac user at some point in time. So we talk about him doing a course which is in line with him being a podcaster and having an interest in movies that are based upon comics. His podcast interviews have been in the realm of comics, it is all in the same area creatively speaking.

Kurt Sasso

Is the industry standard software the only software that you can use?

I perhaps should have asked him what sort of applications he uses to make his podcasts. We did talk about the video end of things and the need to use Avid, which in some areas of the film business is an industry standard. Sometimes I’m not sure that industry standards are the best thing or the only thing out there. Certainly doesn’t mean that you are obliged to use applications such as Word, just because that’s what most offices run with. Doesn’t mean that you have to use Avid when we have the marvellous Final Cut Pro X available to us for making movies.

Making audio podcasts or making video podcasts

I prefer to make audio podcasts because I have a pretty poor Internet connection. On bad days getting a good connection for Skype for an interview can be difficult even for audio, so I’m sure I would struggle getting good quality video interviews for a podcast. Kurt has a preference for using Google plus hangouts for making video interview podcasts. One of these days I will give it a try anyway and see how well or how badly it works. The only thing with making video podcasts, is that generally you have to put some trousers on.

Being creative, producing creativity

Kurt tells me that he would like to be a producer and during the interview he explains what the role is of a producer in the media business. We also get talking about how it is that some television series get cut for various reasons and how the long-suffering viewers get left in the lurch. It might well be that the television series was a bit rubbish and didn’t deserve to be taken on to series 2 and it might well be that they just ran out of money or the actors became unavailable. Off the top of my head I can think of three TV series that I was watching that were lost in this way. Such is the way of the world. Do make sure that you check out the podcast of Two Geeks Talking as it is a very good listen if you are interested in the world of comics. Kurt Sasso really knows his stuff in his chosen area of expertise.

Two Geeks Talking Website:

Facebook: Two Geeks Talking

Twitter: Kurt Sasso

Twitter: TGT Media

Instagram:

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q podcast 115 featuring Bob de Grande

Podcaster Bob de Grande

ITunes Podcasts The Dexter Cast by Bob Rachael Thena and Janis

I last talked to Bob de Grande five years ago on this podcast. Bob, in the meantime has got into podcasting in a big way with a number of podcasts. He did a podcast called Dextercast. He has a podcast called ‘In the Village’ which is based on the 1960s television series ‘The Prisoner’. I have been to the village where this was filmed in Wales called Portmeirion and is a great place to visit especially in the spring or summer time. The Italianate architecture looks much better when there are lots of flowers in bloom. Bob also introduced me to his ‘Clone Dance Party’ which is based upon the ‘Orphan Black’ TV Series. Since interviewing Bob on the podcast a few days ago I have started to watch Orphan Black and I am finding it very entertaining.

Talking about Macs

A while back Bob bought himself an iMac to be able to do his podcasts and is still using this after a good few years. It just goes to show that the Mac computer is a good quality machine and will last a good long time. I am finding this myself with my iMac which I was able to upgrade a little by adding an external Thunderbolt connected SSD. Of course, I also added as much RAM as I was able to. I expect to get another two or three years from this computer.

Bob has never used an iPhone although he tells me did have an iPod Touch. He is however, using an iPad which is a great computer to have around. he says he carries it everywhere with him. I know that I love using my iPad Air 2 to create plenty of creative digital content including podcasts and digital artwork. It really isn’t true what some people say that an iPad is for consumption of content and not very good for creating it.

A picture of Bob in which he used software to turn himself into an evil vampire. This image was done in an application called iMut8r on iOS. He certainly looks a very scary indeed.

2011 10 28 18 34 50

Bob looks a little bit less scary in this picture taken at a Dexter event in New York. Pictures were taken of visitors to the event as victims of the serial killer in Miami. Dexter was a pretty good TV series, even though it was a little bit gruesome at times.

2012 09 27 17 46 11

Posted in Podcast.

Mac20Q podcast 114 – Blast from the past – Mike Reed

Once again it is so hard to believe that five years have passed since talking to a previous guest on the Mac20Q podcast. These chats I have with other Mac users who are clearly enjoying using the Mac and iOS devices are really great fun to do. In this interview Mike and I talk a lot about the video and movie business. When I talked to Mike last time he was involved in the making of some movies and now he is working towards making his own video business. He is looking at both ends of the age spectrum with helping parents to create a good quality record of how their child is progressing and at the other end with talking to old folks about their life experiences and life story. Certainly, there are people out there that wouldn’t be able to do these sorts of things for themselves. Often it can be good to pay a professional to do a good job and end up with something that you would be proud to show off to other people. Mike is currently bootstrapping the startup Deer Studios independent film production. Mike Reed documents on a long term basis, the local filmmaker community engaged in #pompeywood and #frugalwave and experimenting with shortform episodes created and edited and uploaded entirely using the iPhone 6 Plus

Follow Mike on Twitter – @britmic

Mike Reed

A sound business in video

Mike’s specialism is with the audio quality and audio reproduction in videos and movies. When we talked last he had audio professional quality Sound Devices recorder and this time we talked about how it is possible to get good quality microphones to connect to an iPad or iPhone. Only today, I heard on another podcast somebody saying about how they were amazed at the quality of audio recording they got using just the on-board microphone of the iPhone 6. It is vitally important to get really good sound quality when you are making a video. If the video itself is not too good then people will put up with it to a certain extent. On the other hand, if the sound quality in a video is poor then the viewers will quickly move on to something else.

A favourite app for Mike

I had already got the Fantastical application on my Mac and really enjoyed using it. It is sweet when I am able to add events using natural language. Mike told me how he is enjoying using Fantastical on his iOS devices. On account of his recommendation for the application on iOS, I went and bought the version to put on my iPhone. I must admit that I am finding it very useful indeed. If you tap once on the menu bar at the top it takes you to today in your calendar. If you tap and hold down, then you can change the date to a date that you’d like to go to. You can also slide the dates in the top part and go quickly through the dates. In the lower part of the application where you see the list of events that you have in your diary, you can also scroll through that. It is easy to get the application to give you location-based reminders and it will either remind you when you arrive or you can set it to remind you when you leave at that location.


Script for the intro to the podcast

As ever there are a lot of updates to applications for the Mac and also for iOS. Perhaps there are even more this week due to upgrades to the iOS on both platforms. My upgrade to the latest OS on the Mac went a little bit strange due to it booting into an old boot disk rather than the correct external thunderbolt disk I normally boot into. It took me a little while to work out why everything was completely wrong. At least I had plenty of backups of my system disk in case everything really did go completely bad.

I am quite pleased with Fantastical that I put onto the iPhone. It is only a shame that it is not a universal application that will also work on the iPad. No big deal as I pretty much have my iPhone with me 24 seven.

In an attempt to get myself organised I jumped into using OmniFocus. I was pleased to be able to find a script that had been created which would allow me to better make use of templates. Now when I post a new blog post I can quickly create a new project based upon a template and quickly set up reminders to do certain things for the sharing of the blog post on the social networks. This way I won’t have to rely upon my memory or having to do this manually either in the reminders application or using Fantastical. Automatic is always good and I can now do that with Omnifocus for iPad and Mac.

I still can’t resist getting new applications for both the Mac and also for iOS. I got my hands on a nice little application called Textgrabber. I can take a picture of some printed text and this application will do OCR or I can get it to translate what ever it reads. It is also possible to send the text that has been grabbed to the usual sharing sites like Facebook and Twitter. Something I will have to play with in order to find out how good is over the next couple of weeks.

On the Wizardgold YouTube channel you will find a couple of new tutorials. The latest one is about how to create a looping background sound that can be used in BossJock or another audio app. I will also be making a tutorial about recording audio using that background sound to create a podcast intro. If I have that ready in time then I will have used this for this podcast. If not, listen out for it on the next Mac 20 Q podcast. Another tutorial that might be in the pipeline is to do with ProCreate the iOS drawing and painting application. I once again I have desires to do some drawing on the iPad. Procreate is still my favourite art application to use on the iPad, especially when I’m using my Wacom Bluetooth stylus. It gives me the pressure sensitivity when drawing and really works very well for my artistic endeavours. I will making a tutorial about Pixelmator for iPad which is great on the Mac too.

This is the second episode of the second series of Mac20Q and once again we have a blast from the past with a chat with a guest from series one. In this podcast I’m talking to Mike Reed and we cover quite a bit to do with making movies and creating video. In our first chat five years ago Mike was involved in making movies and his interest still lies in this direction.

Posted in Podcast.

Weird Yosemite Upgrade – Podcasting and Using FTP Apps

The upgrade to Yosemite 10.10.1 was a weird one

When I got to my computer first thing this morning the screen was dark and yet the computer was actually running. It wouldn’t start up, so I had to switch it off with a hard restart. When it started up again it invited me to upgrade the operating system and also many of the applications on the iMac. I thought it might be that overnight a lot of applications and suddenly put out updates. Even so, there was something bugging me and it didn’t look quite right. I have been using Safari as my default browser lately and for some reason or other Google Chrome was up front. My preferred Twitter client is Tweetbot and yet the one I had been using before that was on the screen. (What has happened to App.Net?) My 1Password was showing incorrect passwords for one or two applications I was having to sign in with. This was because it had synchronised with iCloud rather than using Dropbox which is what I have been using lately on all of my devices. In the end I went to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the iMac and had a look at My Computer and it told me that I was running 10.9.4. Now that is going back quite a bit.! It seems that I had rebooted back into the wrong disk. It should have booted into the SSD that I have connected by Thunderbolt. I am surprised that there even was a different bootable disk that it was able to connect to.

Getting the problem sorted out

So I went into the system preferences and selected the start-up disk that I wanted to use and did a restart. This time it booted up into the correct disk and it finished off the upgrade to 10.10.1 which is the latest version of Yosemite. After that, everything went perfectly with the upgrade and everything was as it should be. It was a little bit annoyed because it wasted at least half an hour of my time with me trying to find passwords for applications that really didn’t need to be updated. So I am pleased to be back in business again.

Podcasting once again

BossJock

Later today I will be interviewing somebody else for the Mac20Q podcast and I will be looking forward to publishing that podcast as soon as possible. Yesterday I started to make a tutorial about how to create an intro piece of audio to use in the iPad podcasting app called BossJock. I am recording it using the latest version of my preferred screencasting software ScreenFlow. I just have to have the iPad plugged in to the iMac and I am able to choose it as an input for the recording. The problem that I have is that I need to listen to the audio from the iPad as I am using audio applications and the sound is going to the iMac rather than to the iPad speakers. If I plug in the headphones so that I can listen to the sound from the iPad then the iMac doesn’t record the sound into ScreenFlow. I need to find some workarounds.

Using an FTP application

Yummy FTP

My preferred FTP application for the Mac used to be Cyberduck, but for some reason or other, it doesn’t seem to work now. It is looking for an older version of Java to be present for it to be used. I have another application on the Mac called Yummy FTP and for the most part it seems to work okay. Recently though, I have been using Transmit FTP on my iPad and I have been very pleased with how that works. I’m tempted to buy the Mac version so that I’m using the same software on both iOS and also on the Mac. I’m not sure if I want to spend the €30 to buy it though.

What do you think? Is it worth spending the money to buy a different Mac FTP application? Should I stay with Yummy FTP or should I get Transmit?

Posted in Mac Software.

Mac 20Q podcast number whatever with Michael King from Texas

I have been really quite keen lately to get back into podcasting. I have been doing a mini podcast in the form of an audioBoom and those of only been around about five or 10 minutes long usually. You can find me over on AudioBoom as Spondicious. I sent out an email to some of the people that I interviewed on the previous round of Mac 20 Questions podcasts to ask if they would like to have another chat. It didn’t take long before one of two people came back to me and said that they would like to talk Apple and Mac with me again. The first person to get back was Michael King from Texas in the USA.

The house next door on fire

Michael King on Fire

The day after the fire

Burnt offerings

We love our Macs

It is true to say that once you get into using a Mac you are quite likely to really get into it and risk being called a fan boy. The thing is, is that it is good fun to use a computer that has been well designed and is easy to use and do things with. I am of that age when I can remember before computers were around. It was that time when even for making a telephone call we used to have to go to the telephone box at the end of the street. So for me and many others it is as though we are living in the future now. Yes I know we are really in a future time. I have a computer that I can talk to using Siri and to a certain extent the computer lady will respond to my demands. I like to dictate as much as possible using DragonDictate on my Mac and Siri is very handy for dictation on my iOS devices too.

The Mac and Photography

Photography has got so much easier now that we don’t have to mess about with chemicals in order to get our pictures. I love the immediacy that we get with the digital photography world. On account of the fact that’s things happen so much faster I find I can be more creative as I have many more choices than I can put into turning my photos into art. On the Mac I am using Aperture and Michael King who I’m talking to in this podcast is also still using Aperture. Michael may be switching over to using Lightroom from Adobe with the new Photos application, coming early 2015. We just don’t know yet what Apple will be giving us to work with our photos and whether it will fit into the slot of being an photography app that professionals and serious enthusiasts would be happy to use.

Macs in the office

Michael works in an office where it is predominantly Mac computers. There are one or two applications that have to be run within Windows though. He is able to run these within a virtual machine although he does have a Microsoft Surface Tablet for mobile computing that requires a Windows operating system. He says that he quite likes this Surface tablet and well, if it does the job for him then why not. I have to admit to using Android and sliding in between platforms for 18 months before coming back to an all Apple computing experience.

Microsoft Surface Tablets

Using an Apple computer is fun

What comes across in this Mac20Q interview with Michael King from Texas is that he enjoys using his Apple and iOS devices. We like to be creative with our photography and video making with applications like Aperture and Final Cut Pro X. You can hear it in Michael’s voice that he enjoys doing stuff with the Mac and IOS. Windows users tend to have a different sort of fun with their computers. They enjoy it when they have to take it apart and put it back together again in order fix it and get it working again.

Posted in Podcast.

Mac 20 questions podcast is returning

The Mac 20 Questions podcast is coming back.  I have already recorded the first of the new series of matter in question podcast with a chat with Michael King from Texas in America He tells me about his house nearly burning down and also about how he’s got a trashcan Mac on his desk that has been relegated to a second in command after the new 5K iMac.  Michael also tells me that he’s got rid of his iPad because he got himself one of those iPhone 6+ and he finds that he has no need of the iPad.  It is all well and good to have the large iPhone, but there are one or two applications that are iPad only which will not run on this new iPhone.

There are more podcasts coming I have a podcast interview setup for next Tuesday and other people have also shown interest in talking to me about how things have changed since the last time I talked to them about Mac and Apple stuff.  If you haven’t been on the Mac 20 Questions podcast before then I would like to talk to you.

if you would like to subscribe to the max 22 podcasting iTunes all you need to do is to take this feed URL   –  http://mac20q.com/feed/podcast/ – and to add it You go to the File menu and select Subscribe to Podcast.  I’m sure it is also possible to take this podcast feed and to add it to other podcasters.

Another podcast that I do

I record a podcast that AudioBoom in which I talk about bits and pieces and not just things to do with the Mac. I do talk technology on there, but I also mentioned books that I read and films that I’ve seen and anything that takes my fancy. Also available on iTunes

Posted in Mac20Q.

Affinity Designer – The Best Mac Illustrators Application

This is the illustration App I have been looking for

Affinity Designer for MacSince I changed over to the Mac from Windows about eight years ago I have been looking for something that was as good as CorelDraw. I was something of an expert with CorelDraw, having used it for about 12 years on a daily basis and I was disappointed there was nothing really like it for the Mac. Well, there is Adobe Illustrator, but after using it I was a little bit disappointed with the ease-of-use. It was possible to do many of the things I was able to do with CorelDraw, however it was always much more difficult. I looked at Vector Designer and Intaglio and more recently another one called Candy Apple and none of them really did it for me. I have heard good reports of this application called Affinity Designer which has just become available and I have to say that I am really quite impressed.

Affinity Designer – A Good Place to Work

When you are spending a lot of time within an application you want to see that it is well-designed and intuitive for your use. You don’t want to have it looking like one of these horrible open source applications that are often powerful but extremely ugly. For this reason I really like using Pixelmator for working on bitmap images. Affinity Designer in some ways has a similar look to Pixelmator and I like that. I quite like it that I can use the application where it takes up the whole of the screen in one working space and if I want to I can change to having parts of it all separated on the screen. So you might have one drawing in one window, the toolbars in another, the layers palette somewhere else and so on.

First impressions of Affinity Designer

The first tool that I tried out was the line drawing tool and it’s worked as I expected with the creation of lines using Bezier curves. I quickly found out that if I held down the command key then I would also be able to edit the nodes I had created individually and then still go back to finish completing the line. Brushes can be applied to the line to totally customise how that line looks in the drawing. There are a few keystrokes that you need to learn for modifying what happens with the tool as you use it. It is not too difficult for you to change your line by turning it into a closed shape. As you might expect when you are using a new application for the first time there are things to get used to and I am still working on how to create gradient fills. I have learnt how to duplicate objects and to do power duplication. This is where you can make one duplicate and makes changes to it, such as rotation and scale and then do multiple duplicates which also duplicate the changes that you made.

Bezier tools in Affinity Designer

Good views in Affinity Designer

I’m highly impressed with the level of zoom that you get with this application. This means you can go in and work on very small parts of your drawing, making very detailed and complicated art works. There are three types of view that you can use – Pixel View Mode, -Retina Pixel View Mode and Outline View Mode. (I found a fourth which I mention later.)

In my initial time of discovery with Affinity Designer I’m not noticing a huge difference between the first two of those Pixel Views although if I start working with some bitmaps on there as well, maybe I will see more. The Outline View Mode is a wireframe mode which is very handy when working on vector drawings and something you would expect to find in this type of application.

There are menu items and keyboard shortcuts that you can use to change your view of your drawing quickly. Such as using cmd+0 to zoom the drawing to fit the screen. Or you can use cmd+shift+0 to zoom to a selection. There are plenty of other zoom views based on a percentage of the actual size you can also take advantage of.

Manipulating objects onscreen

Vector Object manipulation
It is the usual story with objects you have in your drawing where you have a set of nine points on a rectangle bounding box which surrounds your object. You can use the points at the sides to change the shape of an object making it wider or taller. The points at the corners allow you to change the height and width at the same time. If you hold down the shift key it will constrict it to the same proportions. Basically, with Affinity Designer you have just about all of the usual requirements for doing what you need to with your shapes. I have found that there is one thing missing I would have expected to be there, even in a first version of a vector drawing application. When you rotate an object, at the moment you can only rotate around the centre point for that object. I wrote a message to the developers asking why it wasn’t possible to move the rotation point to wherever you wanted it in relation to the object. I was impressed that they got back to me quickly to say that it is something on the list to be included in the application as soon as possible. I like the way that I can have as many objects as you want on a layer. This means you can set the blending for a group of objects at the same time when there on the same layer.

Info PanelOver on the right hand side there is an info panel and you can use the drop-down on the layers to see all of your objects. This makes it very easy to select a specific object, even if it is behind others and you can’t see it in your design. Then there are tools which allow you to move an object forwards and backwards in the drawing. So you can set whether an object is at the front or at the back, or somewhere in between. You can name all objects if you want to help you keep track of them.

Lots of tools to play with in Affinity Designer

In the toolbox you have all of the tools that you need for creating vector designs. There is the Move tool which gives you your basic manipulations. Then there is the node tool which lets you change the shape of an object by moving nodes and bezier nodes if there are any. You can change a node which is set for a sharp change in direction of the line, to a node which will give you a curve. Nodes can be either sharp, smooth or smart and with these you can make a line or a shape do whatever you want.

Using bitmaps in your vector design

All of the vector design applications now have facilities for using bitmaps alongside vectors. This application is no different in this respect. You can use the bitmap placement tool or you can just drag and drop images onto the canvas.

Using text on your Affinity Designer graphic design

You have a choice of using Art Text or the Frame Text Tool. Art text is for a short amount of text, while the frame text is what you will use for paragraphs. The art text you can manipulate the same as you would any other shape. The paragraph of text fits within the rectangle and you have more options of setting how that text fits within that frame. So you can go for left justification, or centre, right or fully justified. In fact, there are even more things you can do with the text than that. Open up a dialog window to see all of the options.

I did find it a little bit weird that when I zoom right into the text it has the look of bitmap jaggies, even though it is a vector object. When manipulating the shape I had to go to the wire frame type mode to get a workable view of the text. But then I found that there is a fourth view mode that is not available with the icons at the top of the drawing, even though it is available from the menus. Going into Vector View shows the text off in all of its vectorised glory.

Tools and Affinity Designer Untitled Modified 100 5

Affinity designer is an excellent graphic design application

I really enjoy using this application for creating vector graphics. It is completely amazing in its first incarnation as a new application. The developers do have a list of things to add to the app. What is already a fantastic, brilliant illustrator’s application, can only get better. Look out Adobe Illustrator you now have some real competition. The price of the application is reasonable at €45 and in the advertising for the application it is mentioned many times that it is a one-off purchase. Affinity designer is directly challenging Adobe Illustrator for which you have to pay monthly and will end up costing you more. I have already stated that I am impressed and delighted with Affinity Designer and I give it the Mac20Q seal of approval.

Posted in Mac Software.

Dragon Dictate and Yosemite

So I have upgraded to Yosemite and DragonDictate seems to be working so far. I was a little bit dubious about whether I should do the upgrade or not and this was based totally upon whether DragonDictate would work within the new OS X operating system. It is this speech to text application that I use on a daily basis that has to work for me, otherwise I would just never get any work done at all. I’m using it now within the DragonDictate window and next will be trying it out on other applications also. I usually find that it works well when I am dictating into my journalling application called Day One. When I’m dictating into Chrome I sometimes find that the application has a little bit of a problem. What it does, is to add a random letter to the end of the text and it will stay there until I delete it. The actual dictation works more or less the same as it does when I’m using it within the DragonDictate window. It is only a small annoyance to have that letter added to the end of my text during the dictation process.
DragonDictate

What do I think of Yosemite so far?

The first impressions is that it is quite clean looking. I can’t say much more than that as I haven’t yet tried out any of the new options available within the new operating system. I know that I won’t be able to try the Handoff feature until I get my hands on a Bluetooth dongle. Rocketek USB Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy USB Adapter – Mac OS, Classic Bluetooth and Stereo Headset Compatible usb 4.0 dongle is the one I will give a try.
The Bluetooth has to be the Bluetooth 4 low-energy and it is just not on the older models of the Mac. My iMac is three years old and so I will have to try the dongle in order to use Hand Off.

Should I use iCloud drive?

Cloud Drive Explorer on the App Store on iTunesI was a little bit hesitant during the installation process as to whether I should start using iCloud Drive. This was because it was advised that we shouldn’t use it when upgrading to iOS 8. I think it should be okay now and so I will go for it and see what happens. I got my hands on the free app Cloud Drive Explorer so that I could see inside iCloud Drive on my iOS devices. I thought I could drop a file into the iCloud folder and it would show up on the iOS devices in some place I could use it. I was trying all sorts of ways to move a file from the Mac in Byword to iOS via iCloud Drive. In the end I dragged it to the TextEdit folder and used the third party app to open it and sent to Byword. I wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.I suppose it takes time to practice and perfect the way of doing it. I did make it work but I could create a folder in iCloud Drive on the Mac.

Well it all went okay so far, although on the iPhone 6 it did do a reboot during upgrading to iCloud Drive. I will have to do a little bit of reading or maybe some watching of videos to see exactly how iCloud Drive works so that I can get the best from the new facilities. I have already opted for the €0.99 per month to get the 20 GB of storage. It seems like a good plan to see how that goes and see if I need more, before I upgrade to the next level 200GB which is only €3.99 per month.

iCloud Drive Folder

The iCloud Drive folder works just like any other folder in OS X. You are able to drag and drop to add files, organise things with folders and with tags, as well as being able to search it using Spotlight. It is going to be handy that we will be able to access all of the latest versions of our files from all computing devices including the iPad and iPhone. It seems the way that it works is that files in iCloud Drive will be available on the Mac even when you don’t have an Internet connection. Not having an Internet connection on my iMac doesn’t happen very often, but if it does any changes that I make to a file will be sent automatically as soon as my Mac goes back online.
CloudDocs libraries and TextEdit and Daily G

Incompatible applications

As I said, I am breathing a sigh of relief that I’m able to use DragonDictate on my iMac. I suppose it was to be expected that one of the incompatible applications would be GPG Mail. It could take quite some time before this is upgraded and it’s compatible with Yosemite. I do have the ability to use S/Mime certificates so that I can still use email encryption. Even so, I will be looking forward to the day when GPG mail is brought up to date. I could look at Thunderbird email client again.

Another application that was deemed incompatible was the Kindle app. This is no big deal as I don’t tend to read Kindle books on my iMac very often. The Kindle application is useful if I want to do a check of one of my own books that I’m working on. I don’t suppose it will take too long before this will be sorted out.

The only other application that isn’t working is the pen tablet preferences pane. This is for a Wacom Bamboo tablet and seeing I don’t use it very often I’m not too worried about it. These three pieces of software were moved into a separate folder on my boot drive called Incompatible Software.

New things in the Messages app

I will be able to send and receive SMS messages from within Messages on my iMac. I usually tend to use this application when I want to make contact with my mother who is using an iPad Mini. I could see that it could be quite handy to have messages coming in through SMS directly and have them available on my Mac. As I have already seen on my Messages application on my iPad and iPhone, it is now possible to send soundbites. This is a quick audio message that you can record and send to your friends as an audio clip. The person receiving the audio clip is able to decide whether they want to keep it or not, otherwise it vanishes after two minutes.

Making calls with the iPhone is possible from messages on the iMac. I don’t make many phone calls, but I will have to give this a try. It seems that all you need to do is to click on a phone number in Messages and that will make the call for you through your iPhone. I think this still works even if the phone is in another room, although I expect it needs to be within distance to work over a wireless signal, probably Bluetooth but possibly Wi-Fi.

Screen Sharing though Messages

On the Yosemite page on the Apple website it says that it’s now possible to do screen sharing through Messages. I did think that this was possible before, but who knows. I will give it a try and see how screen sharing works anyway. This could be handy when I’m trying to show some people how to do things with their Mac.

Improvements with Spotlight

I am a user of the Alfred application and I am fairly sure that I will continue to use Alfred to do my searches and use as an app launcher. I will do some testing of the new ways of working with Spotlight search and see how that goes aswell. I can get into Spotlight by doing a Control Option Space keyboard shortcut. I like the way that in the system preferences you can choose how you want your Spotlight results to appear. The default is to have the Applications first followed by Spotlight Suggestions and then Conversion and so on. It is easy to drag the categories up and down to change the results. So if you wanted to see the results earlier in spotlight from your mail and messages which at the moment are at position 12 on the list you could just move them up to whichever number position.

More Yosemite information to come.

Posted in Mac Software.

October Apple Event – New iPads a coming

A cryptic logo and a clue

Many of the commentators of Apple like to have a guess at what the message means behind the logo and text on an Apple invitation. In the latest invite to the next Apple event we have got a wavy line and something above that which looks like it should connect to that wavy line in some way or other. To me it looks like some sort of nib or paintbrush which is about to touch down onto some surface of one sort or another. This is probably totally wrong as an interpretation, as Apple don’t really have anything in terms of products that specifically fit this artistic notion that I have.

Fullscreen 09 10 2014 11 18The “It’s been way too long.” sentence is probably more likely to have something to do with the fact that the Mac Mini has been languishing without updates for about two years. Once again, I could be totally wrong on this, but you never know. The Mac Mini is a handy little computer that is worth having. I still have the original Mac Mini that I bought several years ago when I first switched to the Mac. It still works and maybe I will switch it on one of these days and have a touch of nostalgia.

New iPads are coming – Probably

It is pretty much a given that there is going to be new iPads involved in this event. One of the rumours is that there is going to be a pro version with a larger screen. It is a nice idea and I kind of wonder how that would work out in terms fitting in with the product line they already have. It is something that would have to fit in with the iPad line and also with the Mac notebook computers. I could imagine that something like a 12 inch large iPad Pro pricewise could end up being more than the entry-level MacBook Air.

I am pretty likely to buy myself a new iPad as the one I have is getting a little bit long in the tooth. It still works great and I will be passing it on to my wife who will be able to make excellent use of it. For me a new iPad will be of interest because of having Touch ID and a faster processor. It will also be useful for me to have an iPad that has the same lightning connector for charging as I have on my new iPhone 6. Aside from that if there are any other changes then I will take what we are given and be happy about it.

Already put the date in my diary

I have added an event into the calendar application on my Apple computer system. I did it using my Apple iPhone 6 with Siri. It is pretty nifty to have the phone in the pocket to do a long press on the home button and talk to Siri. I can do the whole thing and not have to take my phone out of my pocket. I am also really enjoying using that “Hey Siri” functionality and it is something that makes me want to keep my iOS products plugged in and charging. I keep wanting to learn more things that I can say to Siri. One that I find particularly useful in the morning is to ask Siri for the time as I don’t have to switch it on and peer at the screen with bleary eyes to know if I should get up or not.

The event takes place on Thursday, 16th October at 7 PM European time and I will be tuning in. Hopefully the live casting of the event will work properly this time and I will be able to view it on my Apple TV. Have you put the date into your diary and do you plan to watch?

Posted in iPad.